Sunday, July 31, 2011

Museum Admission: $$, Your Local Galleries: Free

Last week, the Museum of Modern Art announced that, " faced with what it calls “escalating costs in virtually all aspects of operating the museum,’’ it  is raising its admission price to $25 for adults from $20 effective September 1. This follows the same increase for the "suggested" admission price to the Metropolitan Museum of Art effective July 1.

The change has elicited some protest from observers who complain that the museum is too expensive already. But others acknowledge the difficult realities of museum financing.

All in all, remember that your local galleries offer free admission and similar opportunities to experience world-class art.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Funeral for Iraq War Soldier, Lake Orion, Michigan,2006
Eric Smith: Funeral for Iraq War Soldier, Lake Orion, Michigan, 2006

By Maylin Wilson Powell
The Albuquerque Journal
July 29, 2011

In our current era of citizen journalism, when amateur submissions are used on Internet news sites, technology and media consolidation have rendered the work of professional photojournalists a much more contingent endeavor. There is, of course, great value in the kind of rousing images that were taken by young women with cellphones during the heat of Egypt’s uprising and transmitted instantaneously around the planet. But, what of the men and women who consistently invested in firsthand photographic reporting over a number of years? The number of photojournalism images published by news organizations has shrunk dramatically in the shift of emphasis to more entertainment and lifestyle coverage. Without courageous and seasoned photojournalists actually going and talking to and taking pictures of people during the eruptions of wars and revolutions, our understanding of the world becomes more and more distorted.

“History’s Big Picture” exhibition at the Monroe Gallery of Photography is a gripping selection of images that brings home the power of visual storytelling. Hung chronologically from the 1930s to the present, these 58 photo images by the masters of 20th and 21st century photojournalism are predominately sobering. The overall impression of history and the big picture presented here tells a collective story of “Woe is us.”

More than a third of the images are from what is known as the “Golden Age” of photojournalism, the 1930s to the 1950s, when magazines including LIFE, Look and Sports Illustrated (USA), Paris Match, and the Berliner Illustrierte Zetung along with newspapers The Daily Mirror (London) and The New York Daily News built huge reputations and circulations based on photography by such artists as Robert Capa, Alfred Eisenstaedt and Margaret Bourke-White. The show opens with the work of these three celebrity photojournalists, including Eisenstaedt’s image of the self-satisfied architects of fascism, “The First Meeting of Mussolini and Hitler, Venice, June 1934,” along with an especially chilling image of the vampirish “Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Geneva, September, 1933,” the Reich’s minister of propaganda, himself a failed journalist and writer who organized the 1938 Kristallnacht for burning books and synagogues.

Capa’s “D-Day, Normandy, Omaha Beach, 1944″ is actually a great watery blur of a soldier swimming toward such massive implements for killing as fortified tank turrets and hundreds of thousands of land mines. Bourke-White is represented by two images –– the first captures three raggedy children in front of a raggedy sign that announces “Entering New Deal, Montana, 1936,” which was a mini-boomtown that faded away in the 1940s after the completion of a federally financed dam. Her second image is a riveting, crowded composition of “Buchenwald Prisoners, 1945″ each of them staring directly at us and still pressing forward across more than half a century from behind a metal fence on the day of their liberation. Scanning their figures and faces, it brings into question what the concepts of liberation and survival could mean to every one of these individuals and their descendants.

On view are five iconic images that were seen on the front pages of newspapers around the world the day after they were shot on location. In the case of Joe Rosenthal’s “Marines Raise the Flag on Iwo Jima, February 23, 1945,” the U.S. government also printed 3.5 million posters for free distribution, and this image was certainly the template for Thomas E. Franklin’s raising of the flag by “Firefighters at Ground Zero, Sept 11, 2001.”

As the gallery notes, other justly famous images of the turbulent and troubled 1960s still “shake and disquiet us,” including Robert Jackson’s “Jack Ruby Shoots Lee Harvey Oswald, November 24, 1964,” Eddie Adams’ “Execution in Saigon, South Vietnam, February 1, 1968,” John Olson’s “U.S. Marines at battle of Hue, Vietnam, 1968,” and Bill Eppridge’s assassination of Bobby Kennedy in 1968.

Mixed in with these images that are part of the collective consciousness of baby boomers and assembled to celebrate the gallery’s 10th year in Santa Fe (after 14 years in Manhattan) are many images that are no less powerful but that have never before been exhibited on gallery walls. All of the conventions of fine art composition and framing are deployed by these masters in the heat of the “decisive moment.” Cameras are angled upward to frame such famous men as Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. as towering presences. Ground level shots with strong diagonals that signal things gone seriously awry including Eppridge’s splayed, spot-lit pieta of Bobby Kennedy attended by a waiter on bended knee, Loomis Dean’s tilting blasted “Mannequins after nuclear test at Yucca Flats, Nevada, May 1955,” and John Filo’s “May Vecchio grieving over slain student, Kent State, May 1970.” Unflinching, upright, straight-ahead perspective confers dignity and gives the viewer a place of privilege in such heart-wrenching situations as Ed Clark’s image of a tear-stained African American accordionist “Navy CPO Graham Jackson playing” a dirge for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s funeral cortege.

Sixties minimalism is used to great effect in Steve Schapiro’s austere and stripped-to-the-essential “White Women, Arkansas, 1961,” and in Eric Smith’s somber empty auditorium “Funeral for Iraqi War soldier, Lake Orion, Michigan, 2006.” Like Hiroshi Sugimoto’s late-1970s empty “Theatres” lit only by a streaming movie projector, Smith’s flag-draped, centrally illuminated casket with no one in attendance is an eerie metaphor, in this case, of offshore deaths that are intended to be kept out of sight and out of mind. In 2003, the Bush administration summarily banned all coverage of the bodies of U.S. troops returning from Iraq, a ban that was lifted in February 2009.

 Hadai Mizban: Iraq "War Games", Baghdad, Iraq, July 2, 2007 (c. AP)

That the gallery is almost always crowded with people talking about these images is due to a multitude of factors. The core reason is the consummate talent, quick response and fortitude of photojournalists working in often terrifying situations where their cameras make them prime targets. Are all those young viewers, who never had the opportunity to see them in print, a testimony to their thirst for truth, rather than entertainment? Certainly, it also has to do with the central location and welcoming open door of Monroe Gallery, a valuable addition to Santa Fe and a recognized international and persistent player in recovering and encouraging the best photojournalism.

In conjunction with this exhibition, the gallery is sponsoring an evening of conversation, next Friday, August 5, from 5 to 7 p.m., between two American photojournalists turned editors, Richard Stolley and Hal Wingo.

If you go WHAT: “History’s Big Picture”
WHERE: Monroe Gallery of Photography, 112 Don GasparÂ
WHEN: Through Sept. 25.
HOURS: Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
CONTACT: 505.992-0800 or

Demonstrators in a Works Progress Administration (WPA) Strike, 1937 (Time Inc.)
Carl Mydans:  Demonstrators in a Works Progress Administration (WPA) Strike, 1937 (c.Time Inc.)

Read more: ABQJournal Online » Photos Capture History
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

JEROME LIEBLING, 1924 - 2011: "My concern is with the very structure of the picture"

Via Star-Tribune

Former Minnesota photographer Jerome Liebling, 87, who profoundly influenced the state's professional photography community during two decades teaching at the University of Minnesota, died July 27 in Northhampton, Mass.

Liebling taught at the University of Minnesota from 1949 to 1969. After serving with the 82nd Airborne in Europe during World War II, he had studied design and photography at Brooklyn College and then film production at the New School for Social Research in New York City. He was hired by the U. of Mn. to teach photography at a time when colleges were expanding their art and theater departments in response to a flood of returning G.I.s.

His early black-and-white photos were shaped by his common touch and deeply humanistic instincts. Politicians were a favorite Minnesota subjects, especially DFLers for whom he was the unofficial documentarian. Two of his six books also pay tribute to his Minnesota years: "The Face of Minneapolis" (Dillon Press, 1966) and "Jerome Liebling: The Minnesota Photographs" (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1997).
“He always had a deep love for Minnesota, and a special interest in working folks,” said his daughter Tina Liebling, a lawyer and DFL state representative from Rochester.

Among Liebling’s favorite photos was one of then U.S. senator Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy, then a Minnesota DFL Representative in Congress, at a baseball game in 1958. A decade later in the midst of the Vietman War, Liebling had that photo printed up as a poster and, with Tina, sold it on the street outside the Chicago convention hall in which Humphrey was nominated as the Democratic candidate for president, and McCarthy — as the anti-war candidate — mounted a bitter challenge that split the Democratic party and led to the election of Republican Richard Nixon as president.

My father served in the military during World War II and had a profound dislike of anything militaristic," said his daughter, Tina. "I wouldn't say he was a total pacifist, but he certainly was against the Vietnam War."

Jerome Liebling at Minnesota Center for Photography, Star Tribune staff photo by Marlin Levison
Jerome Liebling at Minnesota Center for Photography, Star Tribune staff photo by Marlin Levison
Jerome Liebling at Minnesota Center for Photography in 2006. (Star Tribune photo by Marlin Levison)

The Brooklyn-born photographer had lived in Amherst, Mass. since 1969 when he moved there to start a film, photography and video program at fledgling Hampshire College. An alternative school that emphasizes independent projects and student initiative, Hampshire had not even opened when Liebling arrived to interview for the job.
Graced by a wide ranging intellect and infectious interest in student work, he became a popular figure at Hampshire where he is memorialized in the recently renovated Jerome Liebling Center for Film, Photography and Video. Filmmaker Ken Burns is the most famous of his many Hampshire students. He taught there for 21 years before retiring at age 67 in 1990.

"As an educator, Jerry influenced a whole generation of filmmakers, many of whom studied here at Hampshire," the college said in a statement announcing his death. "In addition to his artistry, the legacy he leaves us is that of a gifted teacher, beloved mentor, and dear friend and colleague."

He is survived by his second wife Rebecca Nordstrom, a dancer; five children from his first marriage, which ended in divorce; and five grandchildren. The children, all surnamed Liebling, are Madeline (Mark Liebow) of Shelburne Falls, Mass.; Tina (Mark Liebow) of Rochester, Mn.; Adam of Cambridge, Mass.; Daniella (James Lane) of Brooklyn, N.Y; Rachael Jane of Brooklyn.

The now-defunct Minnesota Center for Photography staged a quasi-retrospective, "Jerome Liebling: Selected Photographs" in 2006. It sampled more than five decades of his career in about 70 images, many of them presenting working-class subjects with sympathetic but unsentimental dignity.

"My concern is with the very structure of the picture," Liebling told the Star Tribune in 2006. "Everything has to count, but basically it's an effort to get close to the world and to reflect it. The better I do that, the more sympathy and humanity is present."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reviews: "A great collector discerns quality before anyone else notices it"

Monroe, Brando Ooze Hollywood Glamour in London Exhibition: Martin Gayford

Via Bloomberg

A great collector discerns quality before anyone else notices it.

John Kobal (1940-1991) was in Los Angeles in the 1960s at a time when the Hollywood studios were clearing out their libraries of still photographs. Kobal often was invited to take his pick, according to his friend the critic John Russell Taylor. At other times, he was tipped off when the images were being dumped so he would follow and fill his car.

Some of those gleanings can be seen in “Glamour of the Gods: Photographs From the John Kobal Foundation” at the National Portrait Gallery (through Oct. 23) in London. Here are glittering divas and handsome movie heroes from Gloria Swanson to Marilyn Monroe. By Monroe’s era, Kobal’s enthusiasm was running out. He was a star-struck romantic, and in his view the “gods” and “titans” of Hollywood belonged to the ‘20s and the ‘30s.

 "Elizabeth Taylor"
 "Elizabeth Taylor" (1948) by Clarence Sinclair Bull. The photograph is on display in "Glamour of the Gods" at the National Portrait Gallery in London until Oct 24. Source: National Portrait Gallery via Bloomberg

Those publicity shots he rescued are partly performance art. Joan Crawford told Kobal, “I photographed better than I looked so it was easy for me… I let myself go before the camera.” The result, in an MGM still from 1933 by Clarence Sinclair Bull, was a blend of regal beauty and emotional intimacy.

Crawford and the others were doing what they did best, acting to camera. The studio photographers were deploying, often brilliantly, all the arts of traditional portraiture: lighting, composition, costume and flattery. The latter took the form of extensive retouching.

Worry Lines

There’s a telling comparison between shots of Crawford by George Hurrell in 1930, before and after this treatment. Au naturel, she has worry lines and freckles -- still beautiful, yet vulnerably human. No goddess. This brings out a truth: The histories of painting and photography have always been closely intertwined (all the more so today thanks to Photoshop). These photographs are altered by hand-painting; conversely, of course, painters often use photography as a tool.

 "Dancing Lady"
Clark Gable and Joan Crawford "Dancing Lady" (1933) by George Hurrell. The photograph is on display in "Glamour of the Gods" at the National Portrait Gallery in London until Oct 24. Source: National Portrait Gallery via Bloomberg

“Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography in the 20th Century,” an outstanding exhibition at the Royal Academy (until Oct. 2), demonstrates the same point in a different way. Robert Capa, one of the major photographers included, once remarked, “It’s not enough to have talent, you also have to be Hungarian.” That was a backhanded way of emphasizing how many masters of the camera emerged from Hungary betweeen 1920 and 1940.

  "Satiric Dancer"
"Satiric Dancer" (1926) by Andre Kertesz. The photograph is on show in "Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography in the Twentieth Century" at the Royal Academy in London until Oct. 2. Source: Royal Academy via Bloomberg

Just why that Central European nation was so photographically fertile is hard to say. What the major figures -- Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Brassai, Martin Munkacsi and Andre Kertesz -- had in common was modernism. They use the same tight geometrical structure and pared-down forms as a painter such as Mondrian, whose studio apartment was the subject of a marvelous photograph by Kertesz.

Line and Energy

Moholy-Nagy actually was an abstract artist as well as a photographer. Munkacsi’s “Four Boys at Lake Tanganyika” (1930) has the fluent line and bounding energy of a Matisse, found in the real world and recorded in a split second (this image inspired Cartier-Bresson’s whole career). A few years later, Munkacsi went to the U.S. and began the modern tradition of fashion photography, an artificial art if ever there was one.

"Four Boys at Lake Tanganyika"

Four Boys at Lake Tanganyika" by Martin Munkacsi. The photograph is on show in "Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography in the Twentieth Century" at the Royal Academy in London until Oct. 2. Source: Royal Academy via Bloomberg

If the actual scene didn’t quite have the correct arrangement of lines and surfaces, these photographers might adjust it. Kertesz moved Mondrian’s vase to create the right curve, while Capa may have staged his celebrated and endlessly controversial “Death of a Loyalist Militiaman” (1936).

That possibility only bothers those who confuse photography and truth. Like the still of Crawford sans freckles, Capa’s image of a falling Spanish Republican isn’t raw reality. It’s art.

“Glamour of the Gods: Photographs From the John Kobal Foundation” is at the National Portrait Gallery, London, through Oct. 23. Information:

“Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography in the 20th Century” is at the Royal Academy until Oct. 2, see For more on the foundation:

(Martin Gayford is chief art critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Martin Gayford in London at or!/martingayford.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

PowerHouse Books Publishes Age of Silver by American Photographer John Loengard

NEW YORK, NY.- Age of Silver is iconic American photographer John Loengard's ode to the art form to which he dedicated his life. Loengard, a longtime staff photographer and editor for LIFE magazine and other publications, spent years documenting modern life for the benefit of the American public. Over the years he trained his camera on dignitaries, artists, athletes, intellectuals, blue and whitecollar workers, urban and natural landscapes, man-made objects, and people of all types engaged in the act of living.

In Age of Silver, Loengard has focused on of some of the most important photographers of the last half-century, including Annie Leibovitz, Ansel Adams, Man Ray, Richard Avedon, Sebastião Salgado, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Harry Benson, and many, many others. Loengard caught them at home and in the studio; posed portraits and candid shots of the artists at work and at rest. Age of Silver reveals expertly composed portraits and elegant photographs of the artist's favorite or most revered negatives. This extra dimension to the project offers an inside glimpse at the artistic process and is a stark reminder of the physicality of the photographic practice at a time before the current wave of digital dominance. There is no more honest or faithful reproduction of life existent in the world of image making than original, untouched silver negatives.

Far from an attempt to put forth a singular definition of modern photographic practice, this beautifully printed, duotone monograph instead presents evidence of the unique vision and extremely personal style of every artist pictured. Annie Leibovitz is quoted in her caption as once saying, "I am always perplexed when people say that a photograph has captured someone. A photograph is just a piece of them in a moment. It seems presumptuous to think you can get more than that." However, by including not just portraits of the artists, but also of their negatives Loengard aims to capture something more than just a piece of each of photography's greats with Age of Silver.

In celebration of the book's release, Monroe Gallery of Photography, Santa Fe, NM will feature a major exhibition of Loengard's photographs November 25 - January 29, 2012.

John Loengard: 1981, New York City: James Van Der Zee photographs Eubie Blake, in an art gallery on Madison Avenue.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


One of the most rewarding aspects of our role as gallerists is the time we spend with photographers learning about their careers and experiences. After completing a hectic week of instruction at the Santa Fe Workshops, last night Joe McNally joined us for dinner and conversation. Joe's impressive biography spans more than 30 years, from his early days as a stringer for the New York Daily News to cover stories for Life, TIME, Newsweek, Fortune, New York, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, and Men's Journal; as well as being a contribution photographer to National Geographic for over 20 years.

Joe was one of the last staff photographer's at Life, and we share many fond (and humorous) memories of the giants that came before him such as Alfred Eisenstaedt, Carl Mydans, Ralph Morse, and many others.

As New Yorkers who experienced September 11, 2001, we have been passionate admirers of one of McNally's most notable large-scale projects, "Faces of Ground Zero". This collection has become known as one of the most significant artistic responses to the September 11, 2001, tragedy at New York's World Trade Center, and in 2003 we exhibited four of the Giant Polaroids in the exhibition "Icons" following a Six city tour.

The entire Faces of Ground Zero project consists of 150 photographs taken with a one-of-a-kind camera, a 12-foot by 12-foot high Polaroid which takes pictures 40 inches wide by 80 inches tall - larger than life-size. Joe has stayed in touch with many of his subjects over the last ten years, and has recently been photographing updated profiles.

 Joe shared with us an advance copy of the new book, LIFE One Nation: America Remembers September 11, 2001, 10 Years Later.

The book’s description says it all:

"This expanded edition includes a new foreword by Tom Brokaw, reflections on how the nation has changed in the decade since 9/11, updates on the people involved that day, and new and exclusive portraits by award-winning photographer Joe McNally, who made indelible pictures at Ground Zero in the immediate aftermath of the tragic event.

For decades, Americans have turned to LIFE to see, understand, and remember the most important events of history. In addition to a powerful array of photographs taken by many of the world's greatest photographers, ONE NATION includes original essays by some of our finest writers. Contributors include David McCullough, Maya Angelou, James Bradley, Melissa Fay Greene, Margaret Carlson, Bob Greene and many others. To re-read these pieces today is to revisit an astonishing moment. There is an immediacy and passion to the writing that speaks, just as the photographs do, to what 9/11 was-and meant to us all."

Joe has organized a very special exhibition of his original Face of Ground Zero Polaroids alongside some of his recent portraits. The exhibit will take place at the Time Inc building during the 10th anniversary of 9/11, be certain to see it if you are in New York.

Thank you for a great evening, Joe.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Man and His Camera: A Night with Bill Eppridge

 John Lennon on the train from New York to Washington for the Beatles' concert at Washington Coliseum, Feb. 11, 1964
 John Lennon on the train from New York to Washington for the Beatles' concert at Washington Coliseum, Feb. 11, 1964

Back by Popular Demand
A photo of photojournalist Bill Eppridge

A Man and His Camera: A Night with Bill Eppridge

Thursday, July 28 7-9:00pm
$8; Members and Students, $5
To register in advance, call 203-259-1598

or register online.

Bill Eppridge will return to share even more stories about his experiences as a Life magazine photographer and his illustrious career spanning more than five decades. Eppridge’s iconic images are a testament to the importance of photojournalism in documenting history and range from the Civil Rights movement to the powerful image of a dying Robert F. Kennedy cradled in the arms of a busboy.

On View Through August 28, 2011: IMAGES 2011

Bill Eppridge Retrospective

Fairfield Museum and History Center

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lecture: My Faraway One: The Letters of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz

New Mexico Museum of Art
New Mexico Museum of Art

 1915 - 1933
6:00 pm

In her long-awaited book, My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, Volume 1, 1915-1933 (Yale University Press, 2011), Sarah Greenough applies her formidable scholarship and insights to the engaging epistolary tale of one of the twentieth-century art world’s most famous couples. In more than 650 letters, selected and annotated by Greenough from thousands of pages, the two artists write candidly about topics including art, music, travels, friendships, and their powerful attraction to one another. This volume begins with the letters O’Keeffe and Stieglitz exchanged before they met, details through their passionate affair and marriage, and closes in the wee hours of New Year’s Day 1934, when Stieglitz was seventy years of age. In her lecture, Greenough will talk about tackling the voluminous correspondence of these two creative powerhouses and how their writings illuminate their works of art. Copies of the book are available for purchase in the museum shop. Sarah Greenough is the Senior Curator of Photographs at the National Gallery of Art. For a short biography about her career: For publishing information about the book: Yale Univeristy Press -

Contact info here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Robert Jackson: Jack Ruby Shoots Lee Harvey Oswald,  Nov. 24, 1963

Time, Life, and People Editors Richard Stolley and Hal Wingo discuss Photojournalism and "History's Big Picture" on August 5

Santa Fe--Monroe Gallery of Photography, 112 Don Gaspar, is pleased to present a very special evening of conversation between two of the preeminent names in American journalism, Richard Stolley and Hal Wingo. They will be discussing photojournalism – its
past, its present, and its future on Friday, August 5, 5 - 7 PM in conjunction with the exhibition "History's Big Picture". Seating is limited and on a first-come basis. The exhibition continues through September 25.

Over his 56-year career at Time Inc., Stolley spent 19 years at Life, capturing the events and people of our time, and placing them in perspective for our history. "Life," he once said, "wasn't simply about taking great pictures that knocked your socks off, but taking pictures of human contrast and emotion. We saw violence beyond human comprehension and outstanding incidents of human compassion, and we recorded it all for the readers with such skill that pictures we've seen a hundred times still evoke exactly the same emotions as they did when they were first published." After Life suspended publication in December of 1972, Stolley became the founding editor of People.

In a 33 year career with Time Incorporated, and as a journalist and editor at LIFE and PEOPLE WEEKLY magazines, Hal Wingo encountered some of the world's best known personalities, ranging from Charles Lindbergh to Lyndon Johnson to a wide range of film and television actors. His recollection of those people, from the silly to the inspirational, is a fascinating journey through the lives of those who have shaped our world. Wingo's career began with LIFE Magazine, where he was national correspondent and then far eastern regional editor in Hong Kong. He covered the Vietnam War for three years before returning to New York as senior editor of the magazine. In 1974 Hal Wingo was one of the founding editors of PEOPLE WEEKLY and its original news editor.

Photographers in "History's Big Picture" have captured dramatic moments in time and illustrate the power of photography to inform, persuade, enlighten and enrich the viewer's life.  Universally relevant, they reflect the past, the present, and the changing times. These unforgettable images are imbedded in our collective consciousness; they form a sort of shared visual heritage for the human race, a treasury of significant memories. Many of the photographs featured in this exhibition not only moved the public at the time of their publication, and continue to have an impact today, but set social and political changes in motion, transforming the way we live and think.

New Yorker Photo Booth: Recounting the Freedom Riders and Attacts on the Press


Maryland National Guard units patrolling the streets outside a laundry establishment after an outbreak of racially motivated violence

The view from The New Yorker’s photo department

Via The New Yorker
Photo Booth
July 21, 2011

Calvin Trillin Remembers Donald Uhrbrock

In this week’s issue of the magazine, Calvin Trillin writes about his experience as a young reporter for the Atlanta bureau of Time, in 1960 and 1961. In the piece, Trillin describes a scene in which the photographer Donald Uhrbrock, who was covering the Freedom Rides for Life, was assaulted at the Trailways bus station in Montgomery, Alabama. Trillin, Uhrbrock, and Norman Ritter, the Life correspondent based in Atlanta, had followed the Freedom Ride bus from Birmingham in a car. When they arrived, the police caravan that had escorted the bus from Birmingham “melted away at the city limits,” Trillin writes.

“A man in a short-sleeved white shirt and a necktie—he looked like, say, a bus dispatcher—approached a TV cameraman, pulled out some sort of club, and took a swing,” Trillin told me. “The man in the white shirt seemed to be the leader of a small group of men who were there to attack first the press and then the Freedom Riders. Don was photographing this, and, of course was attacked himself. When they tried to get his cameras, he said he’d give them the film, and he handed it over. All this time, we were slowly moving down the parking lot toward the street, with violence breaking out sporadically. Suddenly, a man appeared and said something like ‘Let’s get them out of here.’ He said it with such authority that the attackers, presumably not knowing whether he was police or some high-ranking thug, let him push us toward a cab that was at the curb. He turned out to be a former Montgomery Advertiser reporter who’d arrived on another bus for a visit and had simply taken charge. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know his name. As we got near the cab, I felt Don handing me a roll of film. ‘Put this in your pocket,’ he said. The roll he’d handed his attackers was blank. This roll had on it the picture that appeared in Life,” of one of the attackers kicking the TV cameraman.

Uhrbrock was a Pulitzer Prize-nominated photographer whose work for Life in the fifties and sixties covered the first astronauts, the civil-rights movement, and the Cuban missile crisis. A selection of his civil-rights-era photographs follows.

Photographs by Donald Uhrbrock/Time & Life Pictures/Getty

Calvin Trillin, working for Time, interviewing John Lewis in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1961

A cameraman being kicked by an unidentified man during a Freedom Rider demonstration

A lunch-counter scene. Many sit-in movements succeeded in desegregating lunch counters and other public facilities in the South

 A proponent of continued segregation

An African-American man is arrested in an encounter with white high-school students who were chasing other African-Americans

Martin Luther King, Jr., is escorted by police officers to a hearing on charges of probation violation following his arrest for assisting a student sit-in

A nonviolent protester is taken away by police at a civil-rights demonstration

Maryland National Guard units patrolling the streets outside a laundry establishment after an outbreak of racially motivated violence

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Joe DiMaggio: In This Corner

July 19, 2011
 In my career I have been blessed with a few fortunate lucky right place, right time relationships. The first and foremost was attending the University of Missouri school of Journalism Workshop. It really doesn’t get better than that. The second would be assisting W. Eugene Smith who taught me more about communications then anyone. Actually, he taught me more about many things but for the purpose of this we won’t go there. When asked to deliver a keynote speech at the NPPA, one of the people I thanked was Bill Eppridge. I would love to tell you that I know Bill well but as the truth be known, that’s just is not so. But here’s what I do know. Bill Eppridge has very few peers. He stands alone with his great talent. He also has another quality that generally photographers don’t have. He’s an extremely humble about what he’s accomplished over the last few decades and he’s still a viable force to be dealt with. Bill invited me to his retrospective at the Fairfield Museum. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. This past Sunday I had a little time off and decided to go to Fairfield, Connecticut to see the show. I thought I knew exactly what I was going to see. Boy, was I wrong. I had no idea the depth and scope of his work. Like many other photographers, we know about the positive RFK Photos, but the retrospective truly showed what an amazingly great talent he is. This is one of the few times I wish I was a great writer because there aren’t enough adjectives to express what an important body of work he has. Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, once told me, he had maybe only a dozen fine photographs. When I had the audacity to tell him, “no you have thousands of great photographs,” he smiled, clicked his heels and said, “one day you will understand.”

Thanks Bill for continuing to teach me the importance and power of a great still image.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"This is unnerving news for those of us who work in the photojournalism industry"

 Vano Shlamov / AFP - Getty Images

Protesting photojournalists accused of spying in Tbilisi, Georgia
Phaedra Singelis writes:

This is unnerving news for those of us who work in the photojournalism industry.

Full Story

Monday, July 18, 2011

War games: Photographer chronicles evolution of kids' play in Baghdad

Iraq "War Games", Baghdad, Iraq, July 2, 2007 - by Hadi Mizban
Copyright AP

History's Big Picture

"They did not have the spirit of childhood in them... They acted like men."

That's an observation by AP photographer Hadi Mizban as he narrates an interactive presentation of his photographs and video chronicling the evolution of children's play in one of Baghdad's most violent neighborhoods.

For years, Mizban has covered clashes there between militants and soldiers — and along the way, he has gathered powerful images of children living at the doorstep of war.

"They played with weapons because whenever they opened their front gate they found people with weapons," he says, speaking in Arabic.

In his chilling images, kids act out roles they have witnessed. Young boys with toy guns take a cowering hostage. Others threaten a girl and snatch her doll. They move through narrow alleys with miniature walkie-talkies and rocket launchers that look all too real.

But lately Mizban has noticed changes in the kids: "They've gone from aggressive children to peaceful children."

As his video shows, they play soccer on the dusty streets now. They wear jerseys of international teams like Real Madrid and pretend to be famous players — instead of insurgents, soldiers or criminals.

In these images, the Baghdad kids could be happy kids anywhere.

Mizban reflects on his reporting about the youngest in society: "You have to document the situation without blinking. But when you shoot pictures of children playing, children laughing, there is hope."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

'This is one of the most powerful photographic shows I have ever seen and, certainly, in my opinion, the best Santa Fe has ever had the privilege of hosting.'

V-J Day in Times Square, New York, August 14, 1945 (? Time Inc)
Alfred Eisenstaedt: VJ-Day, Times Square, August 14, 1945

By Tom McQuire

16 July, 2011
Culture vulture
I have always been amazed with, not only the scope of the collection housed at Monroe Gallery of Photography – both in gallery shows and those items that rotate in and out of storage, but also the myriad ways in which owners Sidney and Michelle Monroe have placed these images in relevant shows throughout the ten years that the gallery has graced Don Gaspar, just off the Plaza. Their latest show, History's Big Picture, is by far the most compelling show they have ever mounted. Its appearance in this tenth year after Sid and Michelle moved their gallery to Santa Fe from Manhattan following the  Sept 11th attacks, takes us on a journey through the history of our country and the world, before and after the events of that fateful September day. Having seen the show on July 4th, I will be forever changed by the images on those walls.
With History's Big Picture Sid and Michelle mine the depth and breadth of Monroe Gallery's archives; combined with new, never-before exhibited photojournalism masterpieces, from the early 1920's to the present day.
From Ed Clark’s poignant image of a Navy CPO Graham Jackson playing in tribute to FDR’s coffin passing on a train, through the somber reality of Carl Mydans photograph of commuters on the 6:25 25 from Grand Central to Stamford, CT, November 22, 1963 reading of John Kennedy’s assassination and the euphoria of the events of Woodstock, 1969 by Amalie R. Rothschild; we arrive at Eric Smith’s haunting and thought-provoking image of an empty auditorium just prior to the funeral for a soldier who died in Iraq in 2006. In this show we see the great arc of our country’s history. This is one of the most powerful photographic shows I have ever seen and, certainly, in my opinion, the best Santa Fe has ever had the privilege of hosting. Bravo Sid and Michelle!
The show remains up at Monroe through September 25th.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"The Soiling of Old Glory”: The Power of a Photograph

The Soiling of Old Glory

“The Soiling of Old Glory”: The Power of a Photograph Lecture by Louis Masur

Thursday, July 14 7-9pm
Fairfield Museum and History Center, Fairfield, CT
$8; Members and Students, $3
To register in advance, call 203-259-1598.

Join us for Trinity College Professor Louis Masur’s engaging discussion of The Soiling of Old Glory, a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winning photograph by Stanley Forman. Learn how an harrowing image of an angry white teenager brandishing an American flag at an African-American man crystallized complex issues about forced busing.

Fairfield Museum IMAGES

Taken in April of 1976, the photograph is of Theodore Landsmark, an African American lawyer heading to Boston's city hall for a case. Here he encountered over one hundred and fifty anti-busing youths from South Boston and Charleston protesting the decision to bus in students from Roxbury, an African American suburb. Entering into this, Landsmark was attacked, ironically, with an American flag, in Boston, home of the Revolution, on the 200th anniversary of the United States. The photo won freelance photographer Stanley J. Forman of the Boston Herald American a Pulitzer Prize.

On April 5, 1976, Stanley Forman, age 30, reported to work early, as he always did. A photographer for the Boston Herald American, Forman had a nose for the news. A year before he had raced to a fire in Boston and captured a horrifying moment as a fire escape gave way and a woman and girl plunged to the ground. The photograph was reprinted around the world and led to changes in fire safety codes.

Sitting at the city desk that April morning, Forman asked what was going on and his editor dispatched him to City Hall Plaza where an anti-busing protest was under way. As Forman arrived at the scene, he saw the group coming towards him. He also saw a black man walking across the plaza and sensed there might be trouble. Forman was too close to get a picture with the lenses on his two cameras, so he quickly changed to a 20mm lens. He started shooting, but heard the motor drive failing and he began taking single frames manually. The entire incident lasted ten or fifteen seconds; Forman took some twenty-odd shots, though a few of the negatives ran together. As he returned to the office, he had no idea what he had.

It did not take long to discover that the image of a protester wielding the American flag as a weapon to attack the man identified as Theodore Landsmark, an attorney, was a powerful one. Some editors feared that publishing it might inflame the already volatile racial situation in Boston. But it had happened, it was news, and, in the year of the bicentennial, it captured something profound about patriotism, race, and violence in America. The Boston Herald American ran it on the front page on April 6. The photograph appeared as well in the New York Times, Washington Post, and many other papers around the country.

A week or so after taking the photograph, Forman learned that he had won the Pulitzer Prize for his fire escape picture the year before. As he prepared to submit the flag photograph for Pulitzer consideration a colleague suggested the title “The Soiling of Old Glory.” It is an ideal title for a stunning spot news photograph. In April 1977, Forman learned that he had again won the Pulitzer Prize for his work on that April day. Two years later, he was part of the staff that won the Prize for coverage of the blizzard of 1978. The most accomplished spot news photographer of his era, Forman is now an equally accomplished, award-winning television news photographer.

Louis P. Masur
Trinity College


Che Guevara on CBS' Face the Nation, 1964
Photograph by Irving Haberman

Via APhotoEditor

A Photo Editor (APE) is Rob Haggart, the former Director of Photography for Men's Journal and Outside Magazine. We count on the site as a daily must-read.

Interview With Gallerist Sidney Monroe
July 15, 2011
Contributor Jonathan Blaustein interviews Sidney Monroe owner of the Monroe Gallery in Santa Fe, NM.

JB: How did you get involved in the business?

SM: It was accidental, almost. After college, I worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Then, I started working in contemporary galleries in New York.

JB: Were you in the photo department at the Met?

SM: I was not. I was in the retail department. It was a fascinating time, because it was at the time of the Tutankhamun exhibition, and it was the first time they put a satellite retail operation in the exhibition, as opposed to just in the gift shop. It spurred their entire retail model. I can’t remember the numbers, but in the three years I was there, sales went from like $3 million to $50 million, because of the expansion of the retail model. This was before they had the retail stores in airports and such.

JB: So is this in the 80′s?

SM: This is in the early 80′s, yeah. I had been a business and economics major in college, and always had an interest in the arts. My circle of friends was always artistically inclined. I was completely talentless…

JB: Entirely, perfectly talentless?

SM: Entirely talentless, but I was always in a circle of creative people. When I took that job at the Met, it was a beginning opportunity in the retail department as they were expanding. Within a year, I became a manger of the book shop. In the book store, you could take anything you wanted to read, you could purchase at at discount, and I immersed myself in learning about art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is an incredible place.

JB: It’s my favorite museum in the world. I studied art more there, when I lived in New York, than even in graduate school.

SM: Anyone who’s been there knows you can spend hours, days wandering, and still not see it all. And I had access to the catacombs, because there’s storage under Central Park. You go down in there, and there’s a Rodin sculpture with a tarp over it. Crates with you can’t imagine what might be in there.

JB: I would kill for a chance to see that. If any of your people end up reading this, I want a secret tour.

SM: I’m sure it’s all changed. Especially in a Post-9/11 world. This was the 80′s, things were very loose, and it was a great training ground.

JB: So you moved from there to the photo gallery world?

SM: The contemporary gallery world.

JB: Where?

Mother and Child in Hiroshima, Four Months After the Atomic Bomb Dropped
                                                     Photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt

SM: I started at a gallery that’s no longer in existence, and quite frankly I can’t remember the name. Then I went to The Circle Gallery, which was a commercial galley specializing in contemporary prints. For a while, they were kind of legendary for having a retail model for a gallery, opening different branches in other cities. That’s where I cut my teeth in the art business. That led to an opportunity to meet Alfred Eisenstadt. He was in his 80′s, and had done some museum exhibits. But he had never done a gallery/selling exhibit. Somehow he had gotten in contact with the owner of The Circle Gallery. I was then the director, and became involved in talking with Eisenstadt about doing an exhibit. My wife-to-be and I got to go up to the Time-Life Building, and sit across from Eisie at his desk. We were both in our 20′s, he was in his 80′s, and it was like a lightbulb went off. I was sitting across from a man who has witnessed history.That’s when I got hooked. We did this exhibit, it traveled nationally, and was huge at the time. It was on CNN, Good Morning America, all the morning talk shows.

JB: Had any of the LIFE photographers shown their work in a gallery context before that?

SM: Not so much. Time-Life had a small gallery in the building, and they would routinely do exhibits for the photographers, but nowhere near the scale of a public gallery. Eisie was a very, very smart man. Of all the LIFE photographers, he published dozens of books. He was ahead of his time in that he understood that photojournalism should be more broadly available to the public, as opposed to just existing in a magazine. I firmly believe this drove the last 10 years of his life. He worked on supervising his prints, traveling exhibitions, doing interviews, meeting the public, from the time he was 85 until he died at 96.

That set off a spark for me, and within a couple of years after that, I had two partners and we opened a gallery in Soho on Grand St. It was just devoted to photography, with an emphasis on photojournalism. That gallery opened in the fall of 1996. We did several shows with LIFE magazine photographers, and presented the first ever exhibition from the archives of Margaret Bourke-White’s estate. Fast-forwarding, after 9/11, being in that location was no longer viable for commerce. My wife and I decided to leave Manhattan, come to Santa Fe, and start over.

JB: Why did you choose Santa Fe?

SM: It’s a good question, and we’re just realizing that we’ve been here 10 years, now, and it’s gone by very quickly. We couldn’t find a location in Manhattan quick enough to relocate. The location we had on Grand St was the quintessential Soho gallery. Cast-iron columns, 16 ft ceilings, everything you would want in a beautiful gallery. Already the migration had already started towards Chelsea. We looked, and all that would be available, if you weren’t one of the big players, would be on the 6th, 7th, 8th floor of a building in Chelsea, and I didn’t like that model. We have always believed in photojournalism, and that it needs to be seen by the public. We’re very passionate about spreading the message, so the public is integral to what we do.

We’d visited New Mexico, and I have family roots here. We knew there was a vibrant art scene in Santa Fe. We did some research, and depending on the data, it was either number two or three art market behind Manhattan. Quite frankly, we took a leap of faith. 9/11 happened. We decided in October, we moved over Christmas break, and we opened the gallery in Santa Fe in April of 2002. We honed down very tightly on photojournalism. That’s all we’ve focused on showing here.

JB: Are there other galleries now that have followed your lead and do what you do, or do you still feel like you’ve got a unique position in the market?

Bobby Kennedy campaigns in IN during May of 1968, with various aides and friends:  former prizefighter Tony Zale and (right of Kennedy) N.F.L. stars Lamar Lundy, Rosey Grier, and Deacon Jones
Photograph by Bill Eppridge

SM: I think we accidentally found a unique niche. Accidentally, because it followed from a passion. Something sparked, and that’s the direction I went in, and at the time nobody else was really doing it. Now there have always been some photo galleries that show some photojournalism in with their other programming, but to my knowledge, there is still nobody doing pure photojournalism, and that’s really become what we’re known for. Both within the collecting and museum community, and the public gallery-going community as well.

JB: I’m sitting here in the gallery, surrounded by artifacts of American history, and I know you said already that you developed a relationship with Alfred Eisenstadt, and that was the catalyst for the gallery, but how did you develop relationships with the other photographers whose work you show? Especially because I’ve got to imagine you’re working with Estates, because many of these people have passed on.

SM: That’s correct.

–(editor’s note: Right here, we were interrupted by a strange woman who took the time to complain that there were no photographs of dancers on the wall. She felt slighted. Mr. Monroe patiently answered her questions, and treated her with respect, despite the fact that she was behaving like a complete nutbar.)

SM: Partly, it was fortunate timing. When we began, many of these photographers were still alive. Eisenstadt introduced us to many of his colleagues at LIFE magazine, Carl Mydans was still living, as were many of the other LIFE photographers. It’s almost like a fraternity. One of the things we’ve been so passionate about is getting these photographers to make prints while they’re still alive. As a photojournalist, unlike a lot of other photographers, they never considered making prints during their lifetime. They were on assignment. They had a job to to. They got their assignment from LIFE or LOOK or whomever, they went out in the field, shot their work, sent their film back, and chances are they never even saw it. It was edited, and used or not used in a magazine.

When we met some of these other photographers, particularly with Carl Mydans, and we suggested that they could go back through the work and see it fresh. He’s seen it in a magazine, or a book, but to sit down with a negative and a printer…the printer would say, “Carl, you can make it this big or that big, we use different paper, crop it this way or that.” It opened up a whole new possibility for them in doing their work. We’ve met these photographers, we’ve encouraged them to do this, but a lot of times they’re hesitant. It’s just not something that’s in their thought process.

JB: Then. But probably we would say that’s changed.

Street Execution of a Viet Cong Prisoner, Saigon, 1968
Photograph by Eddie Adams

SM: That has changed. And now you get a lot more photographers who say, “I want to do what he did.” It really was like a fraternity, and one by one, we either knew about photographers, sometimes we’d talk to them and they’d be resistant. I knew Eddie Adams way back when in New York. Eddie was infamous for refusing galleries. I never really approached him, but I’d always talk to him about it. Within a few months of his passing, his wife came to us and asked us to represent the Estate. It’s a combination of people coming to us, people we’ve put out feelers to, and it’s a very close-knit community. Almost all of our photographers are colleagues of some sort. Sometimes to almost a humorous point. We did an exhibit once, and a photographer found out he was hanging next to another photographer, and he said, “Son-of-a-bitch, I hated him then, and I don’t want to hang next to him in your gallery.” So we moved the exhibit around a little bit.

JB: You did?

SM: We did. My wife likes to say “We work for them.” And that’s true. A lot of times they’re elderly, and we feel very privileged. It’s important to get their work represented, particularly while they’re alive, and to get prints made that will represent a legacy for the future.

JB: You developed a relationship with a network of photographers who knew one another, and as your reputation built, they came to want to work with you. But what about the collectors themselves? How did you develop a relationship with a network of people who wanted to buy these prints.

SM: It started very innocently. This is what we were passionate about. This is what we put on the walls. This is what we want to talk about. And it was slow going in the beginning. We had many times where we had exhibits up, and the established photo collector would be like, “Gee, I don’t know about your gallery,” and then they’d look at it, and they’d say, “But this is photojournalism?” And we were like, “Yeah, isn’t it great?” A lot of what we’ve done, is that we’ve educated people about photojournalism.
Moving to Santa Fe was very liberating, in a way, because in the New York art world, there’s a tremendous pressure. What’s hot? What’s the next big thing? More so in the art world, but it does also permeate into the photo world. So seeing old history on the wall isn’t very sexy. Moving to Santa Fe, there’s more freedom, it seems, of peoples’ perceptions of art in general. We’ve tried to create an environment where the photographs speak for themselves.

JB: So most of your collectors have been into the space? Are most of the people local to Santa Fe?

Martin Luther King, Alabama, 1965
Photograph by Steve Schapiro

SM: No. We have a very wide base. Fortunately, having been in business in Manhattan for so many years, a lot of those clients follow us. Of course, so much can be done in the virtual world now. It doesn’t replace the experience, but certainly they can follow the imagery. We also do photo fairs in New York and Los Angeles. Often, it comes from the first conversation you have with a person about why they’re having a visceral reaction to a particular image. Being complete academic nerds, we can recite everything that was ever vaguely relevant about a particular photographer. It’s about cultivating relationships and knowledge. You touched on the retail model. I believe it’s an important model for a photography gallery. And by retail, I don’t mean retail selling.

JB: Well, that was my next question. Because we’re in downtown Santa Fe, and during the course of this interview, I’d say 25 people have already been into the gallery, and an additional 40 have been looking at pictures through the window. I think some people believe that people come in and buy things off the wall, and other people think that’s a fantasy. I was hoping we might be able to address, from your own standpoint, how it actually works.

SM: Personally, our goal is to spread the gospel of photojournalism, so getting the work seen by the public is critical. It’s a part of what we do, and another part is to educate. That doesn’t mean we preach, but I’m available to anyone who wants to ask questions, as we saw earlier, from mundane to serious. There’s no screening process of who gets to talk to me.

JB: Is that because we’re in Santa Fe? I wrote some things that were critical of some of the galleries in Chelsea for that reason. The approachability factor is nil. Here you’re talking about the fact that you’re almost perfectly approachable.

SM: That was our posture in New York. It’s just who I am and the way I work. It is bothersome sometimes, but that’s just the way it is. And I have to say that it has resulted in some incredibly long-term relationships with very important collectors. I think it’s a thing in the art world, and everybody has their model, and they can do it the way they want. But by design, I want the work to be seen, I want people to be able to ask questions. The retail model for us is that we’re open to the public, and we’re here to show photography. Both in New York and Santa Fe, we’re connected to schools, workshops, communities. Santa Fe is wonderful because of the Santa Fe Workshops, and Center as well. Many instructors bring their classes in here.

JB: You’re talking about retail as a way to engage with the public and have an exhibition space that enables the work to be seen. I’m curious, a bit, about the alternative way of viewing the concept of retail. The idea that people are going to walk in off the street, buy something off the wall, and take it home with them. As opposed to sales coming through built-up relationships over time. How often do you find that members of the public cross over to become collectors, as opposed to the public being appreciators?

SM: It’s hard to quantify, but obviously it’s a very small percentage. But just yesterday, a young couple came in and asked about a Margaret Bourke-White photograph we had exhibited seven years ago. They got married here seven years ago, and came back again on vacation. They asked about the photograph and they bought it.

JB: So it happens, but it’s the exception. It’s not the basis of your business.

SM: No. It’s not the basis of our business.

JB: Nor could it be?

SM: No. Nor could it be. Or should it be.

JB: Right, but in a sense, we’re talking about the exhibition divested from commerce. The exhibition is about getting the work seen, which is not that different from a museum or a public space.

SM: That’s exactly right. A lot of people, as they exit the gallery, say this is like a museum.

JB: As you said before, by design. You could be a private dealer with a small office, if you wanted to be.

Mary Vecchio grieving over stain student, Kent State, May 4, 1970
Photograph by John Filo
SM: Absolutely. And we curate based upon our agenda, which is to tell a story. A lot of times, you get comments from the public, “How do you know which one’s going to sell?” Well, that never even enters into the equation. And on the flip side, there are a lot of times where we have controversial pictures that upset people, and they say, “Why do you put that on the wall?” Because it’s part of the story. It’s very important.

JB: It’s a perfect opportunity to ask, you’re opening your big summer exhibition called “History’s Big Picture” on July 1st. It’s not on the wall today, so I thought you might be able to tell us a bit about that.

SM: Curating is always interesting, because you’re juggling dozens of ideas. It occurred to us that this year is our 10th year anniversary in Santa Fe, during which time we built our photojournalism focus. And it occurred to us that we’ve got this incredible stable of photojournalism that we could curate from and make “History’s Big Picture.” The hardest part is editing, because we could do ten exhibits called “History’s Big Picture” and not duplicate any images.

JB: Really? How big an archive do you have? Given what you just said, how many pictures do you have access to?

SM: Jonathan, I couldn’t even tell you…

JB: Thousands?

SM: Thousands. We have archives in the gallery, we have off-site location here and in Manhattan, and we have our photographers who maintain archives.

JB: Sure. I interrupted, but you were talking about “History’s Big Picture.” As a curator, that’s kind of a broad theme. What did that mean to you?

SM: The pictures that tell the story of history. You have to edit your timeline for history, of course.

JB: American history?

SM: Primarily history as it relates to America. We chose 1930 as the starting point, and wanted to come as close to the present as possible. We have several images from 2006, 2007 and 2008.

JB: Am I correct that for the recent work, you’re showing Nina Berman’s pictures?

SM: We are.

JB: At APE, we spoke to her earlier this year. She’s fantastic. How did you come to get her work in the show?

SM: She is fantastic. She’s somebody I’ve admired. For photojournalists today, they’re obviously working in a challenging environment, and a changed one as far as the media goes. In the heyday, you had vehicles like LIFE or LOOK, where that work was published, the photographer became known, and the public saw the work. In today’s media world, getting images shown is very challenging.

JB: You mean getting images seen?

SM: Yes, getting images seen.

JB: It’s a distinction we could probably talk about for an hour, but I think most people reading this will probably know the difference.

SM: Of course. The visual clutter that’s prevalent today. And the change of the economy of scale of the media. So Nina is one of the many contemporary photojournalists that I’ve known about, followed and admired. I wasn’t sure how we could show her work and do it justice, but in the context of this exhibit, I felt that we’ve got to have it. She was so gracious and accommodating, and it was an honor to have five of her photographs in the exhibit. We’ve got two from “Homeland Security” and three from the “Marine Wedding” series.

JB: Including the Ty Zeigler wedding portrait?

SM: Including the wedding portrait.

JB: Which I saw on the wall in New York last year, which led to the interview with Nina. So we’ve come full circle. That picture will now be on the wall here in Santa Fe all summer long.

SM: And I’m prepared. That picture’s going to elicit a lot of, I don’t know if controversy is the right word. But in the context of a public exhibition, in summer, which is high traffic tourist season in Santa Fe, the good side is obviously this show will get a lot of exposure. And the other side is that there are some very difficult photographs in this exhibit. But that’s history. That’s reality.

JB: Sure. Well, I know that everyone hates to be asked what’s your favorite, or what’s the best, or this or that. But I thought maybe if I put you on the spot, you might be able to pull out some old-school war story from back in the day that somebody told you that you still tell at dinner parties when you’ve had four glasses of wine.

SM: There’s a few.

JB: I’m sure there are many. But can you give us one?

Winston Churchill, Liverpool, 1951
Photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt

SM: One of my all time favorites happens to be about Eisenstadt. This was at an opening for one of Eisie’s shows. He was a small man, and he was very confident of his success, shall we say. So this was at a big opening, and lots of big collectors were invited. I had a collector who’d bought several of Eisie’s pictures, and he said he’d like to meet Eisie. I said absolutely, and he asked if his son could come too. I said “Sure,” and made the introduction. Eisie was always very gracious, but he didn’t like to hang out with people too much. So the man said, “Mr. Eisenstadt, I just bought my son a camera, and I told him, now you can take pictures like Eisenstadt.” And Eisenstadt just stopped and gave him this stare, and he said, “My dear sir, I have ten fingers, and I cannot play the piano like Horowitz.” At that point, I said thank you very much and escorted him away.

JB: It’s kind of dry.

SM: It’s very dry. There’s the face value that says anybody can take pictures. And it’s a very good point, especially nowadays, where everybody’s a photographer. It’s the topic du jour now. I’ve seen so many articles about it.

JB: Me too, so we don’t even have to go there. But if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask one more question. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get into this part of the business? What do you think is the pathway into the gallery industry in 2011?

SM: First and foremost, it has to be your passion. Unfortunately in the world we’re in today, a lot of people glamorize the business. They think it would be so glamorous to have a fancy gallery, and it has to be your passion.

JB: So not everyone gets to blow lines with Naomi Campbell?

SM: No. But we had a great exhibit back in New York with a good friend of mine named Mick Rock, who’s really become quite successful now. He was known as the man who shot the 70′s. He did all the rock and roll photography. He was Bowie’s photographer and Lou Reed’s photographer. I got to know him, and I convinced him to do an exhibit. So when we did the show, we had Bowie, and Iman and Lou Reed hanging out. I would always say, “I’m never going to get rid of that desk chair,” because Bowie and Lou Reed sat in that chair.

But that’s not why you get into the business, is my point. If you’re passionate about the work, it will be rewarding no matter what, because you’re doing what you enjoy. And that’s the bottom line. It’s a job, and it’s work. It’s a fabulous job, and it’s fabulous work, but it’s a job.

If you’ve got the passion, the first step is to find your photographers. There’s a partnership between a gallery and the photographer/artist. You’re in it together. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. When I sell a print and call up the photographer to tell them, that’s a celebration we share. The next thing that follows is the relationships with your clients. And then you take it from there.

by A Photo Editor on July 15, 2011